Donna Cazadd

Photo Credit: Donna Cazadd

This is it!  The time in which gardeners and homeowners have been waiting for.  Warmer weather, the sound of birds chirping, early spring bulbs, and the flowering Magnolia and Forsythia.  As sure sign that spring has arrived! The opportunities are endless.  Will this be the year you start that extreme make over in your yard?

With Gardening being one of the fastest growing hobbies and most relaxing past times the words “Outdoor Living Spaces” seems to be the hot lingo in the lawn and garden industry over the past couple of years.  As we continue to work with our largest room in the house, our yards, we will this month take a look at how we can be certain to be off to a great start this season. Taking a few steps in the right direction now can ensure a healthier landscape.  The following will act as a guide to taking a step in the right direction for the 2007 gardening season. First and foremost do a property inspection.  Prepare yourself with your favorite sweater, footwear, and hat, and also bring along a note pad to take some notes.  This is meant to be an enjoyable time.  Now that you are ready lets enter the biggest extension of your living space….your yard!

First we look closely at the large landscape trees.  We are looking for any broken branches from the winter storms, not those left over from the Christmas tree hidden on the lawn, that would need to be removed and pruned for proper structure.  Perform the proper pruning/removal and for safety we recommend for those high branches contact a local tree care professional for assistance. Secondly lets take a look closer to the ground..at eye level to those landscape plants.  In gardening/horticulture terms we generally refer to these as ornamentals.  Small trees and shrubs that add color and character to the landscape.  These come in two forms; evergreens and deciduous.  Evergreens act as a good back drop and provide year round cover/foliage in the form of needles i.e. pine, spruce, hemlocks etc. and deciduous are ones that loose their leaves annually such as the spring forsythia, dogwoods, spirea etc.  This time of year we look at the deciduous shrubs for structural pruning.  With reference to pruning we always look at the 3 D=s; Diseased, Damaged, and Dead wood.  Begin with these as they are the starting point for a well structured plant.  After this has been completed then we look at structure and form.  There are several excellent pruning guides for landscape plants to be found at your local book store.  Timing is critical.  As a rule we generally prune spring flowering shrubs, such as the forsythia and lilac,  immediately after flowering and summer flowering shrubs, such as the spirea and potentilla in the spring.

Thirdly, after we have completed our pruning take a look at the ground beneath the planting beds.  The best soil conditioner/fertilizer is an organic top dressing for those planting beds that have been neglected for some time and for those well managed beds perhaps a fresh layer of composted bark mulch.  And be certain not to exceed 3 inches.  Following these few easy steps can make for healthier plants and less disease and insect problems.

Fourthly, we have inspected, completed spring pruning and bed work now lets take a look at the lawn.  Is there any salt damage along the road or small areas damaged by equipment.  Now is the time to patch those small areas before weed germination begins.  Is the soil spongy? Is the soil hard? Is it still very saturated?  If you have answered yes to any or all of these questions then it would be recommended to possibly aerate, over seed or even correct drainage problems.  As always test your soil.  The base of any landscape is the soil.  By testing you can then develop a plan that is based on the needs of the plants.  A soil test should generally be completed every 2-3 years depending on the management practices.  As we support healthy landscapes we recommend the use of a quality organic turf fertilizer is best.  Working in conjunction with the Greater Moncton=s pesticide reduction plan…we can have healthy landscapes without the over use and eventually no use of chemicals.

Another great gardening season is upon us.  Now is the time to put those great ideas you have read about in your favorite gardening magazine or seen on television over the winter into reality! What will it be?  That new planting bed? Renovating your lawn? Planting a tree? Or maybe even adding that water feature?

Whatever your gardening projects are for this season we trust that following these tips will be a step in the right direction!

Looking forward to addressing some of the hottest topics in the gardening arena over the next few months!

Work safe!